To understand the ‘core’ or our ‘abs’, we need to touch on some science first. There are 3 types on contractions:
– Eccentric (when the muscle lengthens)
– Isometric (stabilization)
– Concentric (action created by shortening the muscle).
All muscles are created equal but their function differs. Some are better suited for concentric contraction like the quads or the triceps, whereas some muscles are designed more for eccentric or isometric. This has nothing to do with their composition but more to do again with their function.
For example, let’s take a look at the ‘core’.
You’ll use flexion for many movements but under heavy load, the ‘core’ is mostly there for bracing and stabilizing.
We are built a certain way and there is no denying evolution so even though you can train your ‘core’ by doing crunches (flexion of the trunk – concentric) it would be wiser to respect the function of the core when you are trying to build a strong one.
By the way, this can be said about many different muscle groups in the body.
We actually classify them in 3 categories: movers – stabilizers – breakers. Muscles can do all 3 but usually are better at one than the others, which takes us to the core and more specifically the obliques.
The obliques are primarily used for stabilization and breaking, so to build stronger obliques we ensure we predominately train them using anti-rotation (as well as rotation).
Our favorite exercises for developing the obliques are:
1-arm Deadlift or Press
1-arm sled drags
Good old basic side plank
It is necessary to work with both sides stabilizing together as well as each side individually to make sure the left and right side are balanced. If they are not you are preparing yourself for major hip/back issues.